Nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2 utilize similar glutamine-containing clusters of hydrophobic residues to activate transcription

Sajiv Gugneja, Ching Man A. Virbasius, Richard C. Scarpulla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2 (NRF-1 and NRF-2) are ubiquitous transcription factors that have been implicated in the control of nuclear genes required for respiration, heme biosynthesis, and mitochondrial DNA transcription and replication. Recently, both factors have been found to be major transcriptional determinants for a subset of these genes that define a class of simple promoters involved in respiratory chain expression. Here, functional domains required for transactivation by NRF-1 have been defined. An atypical nuclear localization signal resides in a conserved amino-terminal region adjacent to the DNA binding domain and consists of functionally redundant clusters of basic residues. A second domain in the carboxy- terminal half of the molecule is necessary for transcriptional activation. The activation domains of both NRF-1 and NRF-2 were extensively characterized by both deletion and alanine substitution mutagenesis. The results show that these domains do not fall into known classes defined by a preponderance of amino acid residues, including glutamines, prolines, or isoleucines, as found in other eukaryotic activators. Rather, in both factors, a series of tandemly arranged clusters of hydrophobic amino acids were required for activation. Although all of the functional clusters contain glutamines, the glutamines differ from the hydrophobic residues in that they are inconsequential for activation. Unlike the NRF-2 domain, which contains its essential hydrophobic motifs within 40 residues, the NRF-1 domain spans about 40% of the molecule and appears to have a bipartite structure. The findings indicate that NRF-1 and NRF-2 utilize similar hydrophobic structural motifs for activating transcription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5708-5716
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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